Runological Time Travel

January 20, 2011 at 4:20 PM 7 comments

I want to watch medieval people make runic graffiti on a stavechurch!!!

I haven’t been following the PostADay suggestions, although if I like one I make a note of it as it’s always useful to keep a list of ideas.

But I couldn’t resist this one!

As a medievalist, time travel is a subject which tends to crop up from time to time in chat. But this was a different take on it, having a machine that would only give you an hour at a time.

If the machine had to be programmed with a specific date and time, rather than an event (such as the invention of runes… *drool*…) then I would have to pick the end of a Sunday service in one of the most inscribed stavechurches in Norway, a year after it had been built.

Obviously if you get several goes, I could visit them all. It would be really hard having only one go, as I very much doubt they scratched graffiti every time they went to church.

In case you are wondering about my very specific and obscure choice, this is the subject of my thesis.

The reason for choosing a year after it was built would be to test my theory that the graffiti wasn’t all made by builders. If it was all there already I might be wrong. If I had extra goes I could then go a year earlier and meet the builders.

If I went to Torpo in 1192 I could ask Master Builder Thorolf if he had madeΒ Γ…l too. Unless that was to be in his future…

I might pick Borgund, the most inscribed stavechurch, probably built around 1180. You never know, I could see my knotrune being made! πŸ˜€

I could try to catch a specific inscription being written. It would be supercool to visit Vinje stavechurch on the Saturday after Botolf’s mass in 1194 to see if that was indeed the year that Sigurd Jarlsson wrote on the doorframe that he refused to reconcile with king Sverri, who killed his father and brothers in Norway’s civil war.

I think I’d need to take my supervisor, or a friend who was better than me at Old Norse, if I wanted to ask questions though. Our reconstruction of pronunciation is probably wildly wrong so communication could be tricky.

Unless Google have perfected their real time spoken language translator by the time our time machine is invented, which seems likely as that tech is a tad more advanced that time travel, which most scientists believe is impossible, especially backwards.

Oh it would be great!

Another thing I’d like to do if it was a tardis sort of machine where you can bring stuff back is to go to the Cotton library just before the terrible fire on the 23rd of October 1731 and steal rescue all the priceless medieval manuscripts that got destroyed 😦

It would also be good to just go and listen to authentic medieval music.

But I’d be glad not to have the risk of getting stuck there. See, in the discussion on whether you’d go back to live, I wouldn’t. But to visit, a big fat YES PLEASE!

It would be great to have this tool for my research, but until such a time, I shall just have to content myself with ordinary research methods.

It seems strange to me that most people whose posts on this topic that I read would either go forward, or back to something that happened in their own life. And if they went back further, it was to change history. I just want to observe πŸ™‚

As far as PhDs go, it doesn’t just help to be obsessed with one’s research topic, it’s actually compulsory…


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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. corisel  |  January 20, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    Wow! Those stave churches are AMAZING. So glad you put the links up. When I visited the UK last year I was really disappointed to see all the graffiti that tourists had written inside the spiral staircases of these amazing old cathedrals. But perhaps I shouldn’t be quite so outraged.
    Am I to understand it’s part of a much older tradition?

    • 2. knotrune  |  January 20, 2011 at 8:18 PM

      Oh yes, a way older tradition! The Romans made some very interesting graffiti. It must go back as long as writing itself, I’m sure there is some from Ancient Egypt, and probably cuneiform too. I might do a quick web search and post some links, when I get round to it πŸ™‚
      The stuff I study was written by people with a very different attitude. They must have had some things in common, desire to make their mark, but it wasn’t seen as vandalism or frowned on. A fair amount of the church graffiti is religious, prayers and the like – even priests wrote on their own church sometimes!
      I think I might make next week’s Thursday post about graffiti through time.

  • 3. ruarigh  |  January 20, 2011 at 10:45 PM

    Time travel? Yes please, I’ll take two. πŸ™‚

    Great post. For my own part, I would have to go back to the battle of Hafrsfjord and see those berserkir grenjandi and the ulfhednar emjandi. Hopefully I could get away before the gore really started.

  • 4. callydcfc  |  January 21, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    You need the time travel machine I invented for one of my novels. It’s time travel as sightseeing. You can experience the past without the past experiencing you (cos you’re invisible).

    • 5. knotrune  |  January 21, 2011 at 7:20 PM

      Yes please! Can I borrow it? πŸ˜€

  • 6. Kat  |  January 21, 2011 at 10:56 PM

    I haven’t managed to find any of her books, but I’m told that Connie Willis’ work is interesting and deals with history and time travel. I found a detailed review of Doomsday which makes it sound amazing and something that might interest you.

    When I was in Egypt I found some really interesting graffiti in the temples; they’d been used by Coptic Christians so there were all these crosses carved among the hieroglyphs. Interesting stuff!

    • 7. knotrune  |  January 21, 2011 at 11:21 PM

      Yes, I read her book years ago and it really stuck in my mind, it’s one of those memorable ones. I loved how she handled the language. It was lent to me by a friend. I ought to get round to getting a copy.
      That sounds like really interesting graffiti, was it all symbols or were there texts too? Got any photos?


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